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January 18, 2021 11:51am

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Fox News

Maria Bartiromo, Brian Kilmeade and Trey Gowdy are among the list of rotating hosts who will anchor Fox News Primetime, set for its debut in the 7 PM hour as part of a plan to fill the slot with opinion programming.

Last week, Fox News announced that the newscast The Story with Martha MacCallum would be moved to 3 PM. A permanent host will fill the 7 PM hour at some later date, but Kilmeade will launch the show with tonight’s telecast.

Also planned among the rotating hosts will be Katie Pavlich, Rachel Campos-Duffy and Mark Steyn. Gowdy, Pavlich and Campos-Duffy are regular contributors to the network; Steyn is a regular guest.

Back in October, Fox News said that they were planning new formats “as appropriate after the election.” But since election day, much has been made of the growth of Newsmax’s viewership, particularly in the 7 PM hour, as Greg Kelly Reports was a platform for pro-Trump guests to advance unfounded claims of election fraud. Fox News topped other cable networks in viewership last year, but CNN has seen gains post election. In the first week of January, CNN topped primetime with an average of 4.18 million viewers, to 3.78 million for MSNBC and 3.19 million for Fox News.

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Bartiromo, a fixture on Fox Business and Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, has featured guests on her show such as Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, two of the highest profile figures advancing conspiracy theories post election. In December, Bartiromo, along with Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro’s shows, telecast what amounted to a fact check of claims that had been made on their programs about Smartmatic, the election systems company. Smartmatic has threatened legal action against Fox News, Newsmax and One America News Network.

Bartiromo has defended her show, telling the Los Angeles Times last month, “This is the sitting president of the United States, and his attorneys, which up until recently included Powell, have a right for their side to be heard and state their case.” The Times was the first to report the news about her selection as one of the rotating hosts, something that would put her as a lead in to Fox News’s primetime opinion hosts, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. The Times was the first to report on the rotating hosts.